The Lipovans are an important minority in the northern Dobruja. One of their most distinctive traits is their religious devotement. They are old-rite Christians, which mainly means that all of their religious holidays are set about two weeks after those of the new-rite Christians.
[adsense]Lipovans left Russia a few hundred years ago because of the religious persecution. They settled in Dobruja and the neighboring area and over the years they’ve been here, they’ve built a series of monasteries throughout the region.
The center of the old-rite Christianity is the Uspenia Monastery, located about three kilometers outside the village of Slava Rusa (Staroslava). The Lipovans settled here between 1680 and 1769.
Every year, on 28-29 August, Lipovans believers from all over the country and abroad gather here to celebrate the Holy Mary holiday.
It is believed that the monastery was founded around the year 1769 when a wooden church was built here, together with the hermitage for the monks, by the priest Evfrosin. He died shortly after, and for many years, the Lipovans didn’t have a priest. They finally elected Ambrosie as head of the church in 1846.
In 1883, they built a brick church in place of the old one. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Although big enough for it’s use throughout the year, in these two days of holiday you can barely move inside.
There is also a smaller church, built in 1860, currently used mainly in the winter.
Here’s an old painting of the monastery, dating from the early 20th century. These days, is looks somewhat different.
As a kid, I loved going there because every time, there were plenty of small shops selling toys and other fun things at the entrance.
[adsense]Also, they had a nice old water mill powered by the small stream going through the center of the monastery. As a kid, I loved going inside to find out how it worked. Unfortunately, it has not been used for many years and they finally demolished it a few years ago.
From what I understand, there were only two water mills in northern Dobruja, and this was one of them. Wind mills were much more popular (they were in the hundreds). You can still see one at the Celic Dere Monastery.
Inside the monastery, there is a cemetery for the clergy. A few years ago, I went there with my mother and we set our tent right there amongst the graves. Waking up in the morning was indeed a very nice sight.
According to my mother, one of my great grandfathers was a priest or a monk there.
This year, I didn’t really feel like attending the mass, so I decided to head out to the woods. I didn’t really know where I was heading so I followed the road. After I found out that it was leading to Fântâna Mare, I knew I had to get there, because I wanted to do that since I was a kid. It took me about three hours round trip, but I enjoyed the road. There were plenty of great sights.
If you’re on a religious tour in the northern Dobruja, make sure to visit this place. It’s really worth it.